Everyone deserves stories about heroes who look and act and live like them; the ability to inspire people is one of the great real world powers that superheroes all share, so it's important to have heroes from every walk of life. That's true for readers inspired by Ms. Marvel or the new Thor and Captain America, and it's just as true for the country music fans that the Average Joes music label hopes to reach with its new line of heroes inspired by its performers!

Music producer Shannon Houchins and country rapper Colt Ford are the founders of the music label Average Joes, and in addition to representing their artists, they've also turned them into heroes in a series of comics sold through the Average Joes website, created by writer Doug Wagner and artist Daniel Hillyard and published by 12 Gauge Comics. As the video trailer above reveals, the heroes' tongue-in-cheek powers include banshee yells, "redneck" shape-shifting, and transforming into a mud-man. Shannon Hoechins explained why he felt it was important to create country music heroes.


Average Joes #1. Art by Daniel Hillyard


CA: What made you decide to turn your artists into superheroes?

Shannon Hoechins: We noticed very early in Colt Ford's career that he had a large fan base under 10 years old. I think its because kids think he's already a comic book character (he hates when I say that). We create a lot of children's merchandise to supply the demand from this portion of his demo, so making a comic book seemed like a good idea as long as I kept it relatable to the age group. Plus as a lifetime comic book fan I just wanted to do it.

CA: How did you come up with the concepts for all the characters?

SH: Since the heroes were our artists, all I really needed to do was figure out their powers. For the original five (Colt Ford, The Lacs, Lenny Cooper and Sarah Ross) I pretty much just gave them what I thought fit them. Since then I've received suggestions for the other artists on the label on what they think theirs should be. It's gotten to the point where we sign a new artist and the first thing they ask is, "Hey, what are my comic book powers?"

The villains are ideas I come up with here and there and several of them are visually based on people at Average Joes. For instance, Lil Buddy was actually drawn from my baby picture.


Average Joes #2-3. Click to enlarge


CA: How did Doug and Daniel get involved?

SH: I was connected to Doug and Daniel through Keven Gardner at 12 Gauge comics. Keven is our editor and quarterbacks the process.

CA: What's the reception been like from the fans?

SH: Its been great. We have a niche lifestyle market, and as long as we stay true to that lifestyle they are happy.

CA: Do you think there's a real audience for superheroes among country music fans?

SH: Certainly. I grew up in a small town in Georgia and was a huge Batman fan growing up. Most country kids obviously love the traditional characters, but as I got older it came to me that most of these characters resided in large metropolitan cities. I felt like if we created characters that were actually relatable to the country lifestyle as well as super heroes, we could fill a void in the overall comic universe, as well as have some fun.


Average Joes #4

The first three issues of Average Joes are available now from the Average Joes website. The fourth issue, featuring the superhero versions of country rap duo The Lacs, goes on sale May 26, to coincide with the release of their new album.